Giving Your Best

Shortly before the pandemic, I started doing my daily exercise routines at home instead of going to the Y. It works better with my schedule and saves me time on the road. I’ve bounced around between several different workout videos online, and they’ve all been good, but none of them made me excited about exercising. Not long ago, though, I stumbled upon Daniel from Australia, and my exercise life and outlook have changed dramatically. He and his wife, Alex, have an online program called Team Body Project, and it has allowed me to actually enjoy exercising for the first time in years!

I’m not telling you this so that you run out and exercise or join TBP. What I really want to do here is share something Daniel says in almost every video. During the workout, he constantly reminds the participants that all that matters is giving your best all day long and then waking up the next day and giving your best again.

Yes, we’ve all heard some version of this before, but for some reason, this time, it really struck me.

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The Power of Love

We are now in the month of February. It’s the month of love. It’s the month when lovers express their feelings for each other and typically the month when we begin Lent, the greatest season of love in the Church. It can be a cold month, when this part of the world can be blanketed in snow, when much of nature is dormant or dead, and when the sun is often obscured by clouds or rain or snow. I think it’s also a month of hope, a month of looking forward to spring, the month when vacations and summer camps are planned and colleges are chosen. It’s a month to love and be loved. American journalist Linda Ellerbee once said, “In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other.” The power of love will get us through the coldest of times. It is the greatest force in the universe.

On those winter nights when snow falls silently in a barren world, it’s easy to desire nothing more than to crawl into a hole and retreat from everyone. I say, like Ellerbee observed, that it is at those times, when we feel the coldest, that we should reach out to others, pull them to us, and love them fiercely. It is the power of love which creates the warmth we so desperately need, and I don’t mean just on that one day of year that comes in the middle of this month.

We live in a world that seems to believe that love is nothing more than the sugary-sweet outcome of a Hallmark movie, but true love is so much more than that! True love is the food of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the completeness of the body. It is a powerful thing indeed.

Ken and I got engaged in February–February 13, 1993. We had decided that we wanted to have formal pictures done, so we got dressed up for a photo shoot and dinner afterward. While we’d talked about marriage, I didn’t know when, where, or how our actual engagement would take place. I was truly surprised when, between the photos and dinner, Ken got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. We were so young then, barely adults, and hardly knew what we were pledging to each other when he presented and I accepted the ring I still wear today. It has not always been easy, and I’ve gone to bed angry more than once (don’t lecture me–that’s what I need to do to get myself past whatever has upset me). We’ve had our share of fights, but we’ve had so many more joys. After twenty-eight years of marriage, I wouldn’t change a minute of it. That’s the power of love.

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New Year, New Chapter

Merry 5th Day of Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend and is looking forward to the new year.

2021 wasn’t all that much better than 2020. With the exception of things opening and the promising vaccines and treatments, the fear rippling through our world remains, especially with non-stop news coverage of the dire situation we’re in. Despite the vaccines and treatments and lower risks strains, everyone is still being told that this is practically the end stages of Armageddon. Of course, if that is the case, I know that I had better step up my game before that final day of judgment!

The point is, there’s a lot of hope that 2022 will be a game changer. We want life to go back to normal, to be able to spend time with friends and family without fear, and to travel, go to the theater, and do all the things we used to do (and without masks). No matter how you feel about the virus or the treatments or the masks, I’m sure you hope that the day will be here soon when we can live like it’s 2019!

And that has me thinking…

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How To Stop Living in Fear

Halloween week is upon us, the week when everyone wants to experience a healthy dose of fear. We dress up in scary costumes and parade our kids around after dark, visiting haunted houses and homes decorated like graveyards with spooky sounds drifting from open windows.

There’s something about being afraid, whether it’s while watching a scary movie (I’m a sucker for another viewing of Halloween) or participating in a ghost tour, that gives us an exhilarating thrill. But being in a constant state of fear is not the way we are meant to live our lives.

I’ve written before about the passages in the Bible which implore and even demand that we have no fear and about not letting fear to stop you from living, but I think it warrants repeating. There is something wrong, even dangerous, in allowing fear to have power over us and the way we live.

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Be Cured of Your Affliction

For the past few weeks, at the urging of my nursing student daughter, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for the persistent pain in my lower back. After a three-hour consultation but before treatments began, the doctor sent me for a series of x-rays. I think I had more x-rays done that morning than all of the other trips to the radiologist over 51 years combined. I commented on this, and the tech laughed and said, “Yes, Dr. Roberts like to be very thorough.” So thorough, in fact, that on my return visit, Dr. Roberts went over every single inch of every x-ray, pointing out the arthritis here, the degenerative discs there, the minor scoliosis at the top and bottom of my spine, and many other irregularities that resulted from a lifetime of untreated injuries.

Many of the things that were pointed out to me came of no surprise. I’ve had lower back spasms and pain (sometimes excruciating) for about thirty years, and I’ve suffered from upper back pain for about five years. What did surprise me was all of the trauma he identified at the base of my skull and in my neck. I have pain and stiffness there that I didn’t even know I had…

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A Healthier Me

I saw a new doctor today, and I really liked him. For years, I’ve had various issues, but over this past year, everything seems to be escalating with new problems showing up on a monthly basis. Over the past year, I’ve seen my GP, a cardiologist, an allergist, an ENT, an endocrinologist, and a gastroenterologist. Each one treated me for whatever specific issue I was experiencing within that field. This morning, the new doctor, who I went to see for arthritis, told me that he thinks everything is related. Seriously – everything. From my headaches to my gut issues to my arthritis. He feels confident that I have Chronic Inflammatory Disease and have for most, if not all, of my life; and the thing that trigged all of these major flareups is… you guessed it. My bout with that dreaded virus that just won’t leave us alone.

How I long for the days when I had energy and could eat without worry!

But hopefully those days aren’t far away. You see, here’s the best part about what he told me. He’s planning on treating me for everything. Every ailment, every ache and pain, every headache and stomach upset and endocrine problem because my problem isn’t one thing or one isolated thing. It’s everything as a whole. And you know what, it all makes so much sense to me.

For instance…

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Learning to Rest

It’s that time of year again. I’m beginning to see pictures of kids and young adults heading back to school. How does the summer go by so quickly? Morgan heads back to Pittsburgh in just over a week, and it feels like she just got home! Oh, how these girls are going to miss her (Mom and Dad, too)!

Isn’t it amazing how fast our kids grow, how quickly the seasons change, and how each year of our lives seems to be shorter and shorter?

Sometimes, I feel as though I must have slept through a week because I just can’t believe it’s gone already.

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I Hope You Dance

One thing I learned at an early age is that life is not all about work, and work is not all about the absence of fun.

This past weekend, my parents were visiting for Father’s Day. Mom and I spent a little bit of time in town–we live right outside of the Maritime tourist destination, St. Michaels–and visited my girls at work, Morgan at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and Katie at Simpatico, a fabulous Italian market. We all went crabbing, along with Ken’s mom, and feasted on our catch with Rebecca and Anthony who joined us on Father’s Day afternoon. We went to Mass, did a little gardening (thank you, Dad for the new forsythia!), and relaxed, happy to enjoy Mom and Dad’s first time staying at the house since 2019.

While I was making desserts on Sunday afternoon, we listened to a playlist that I created which consists of all the music we listened to when I was a kid. At one point, I looked at my mom and said, “I made this list because all these songs remind me of non-football Sunday afternoons.” Mom smiled, knowing exactly what I meant. She added, “When we’d play all the old records and clean the house before the start of the work week.” I nodded and said, “Yep. We’d blast music while cleaning and doing laundry, but what I loved most is how we’d dance and sing while we did our chores.” Those afternoons are among my favorite childhood memories.

I learned so many lessons on those Sundays, lessons like…

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To My Daughter, the Graduate

Dear Katie,

Katie's 1st day of Pre-K

Can you believe that you are now a college graduate? I still remember your very first day of Pre-K and how excited you were to be a big girl. Well, you are certainly that big girl now, finished school and starting your life as a bona-fide adult!

I just don’t know where the time went. It seems that just yesterday…

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It’s Not The Destination…

The World is a Book and those who do not Travel read only one page.

Though travel has not been a common household word lately, my email inbox continues to be flooded with travel blogs, airline deals, and invitations to join pilgrimages. For most of the past year, I have deleted many of the emails without opening them, knowing I would be torturing myself if I read them, but lately, I’ve found myself reading about The Best Waterfalls in the US and 9 Destinations You Wouldn’t think to Visit but Should. I spent an hour the other day listening to Peter Greenberg’s latest vlog on Facebook to hear what’s happening in the world of travel.

I’m ready to go. I’m ready to explore. Though we planted a small garden, and I’ve actually taken a mild interest in my flower beds, I’d leave it all behind in a heartbeat.

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